The Color of Money at Nordstrom is Not Red or Blue, It's Green.

Dipanjan Chatterjee

Cincinnati, wedged between Kentucky and Indiana at the southwestern tip of the state, is where swinging Ohio blushes deep Red. Except for a few pockets of anomalous defiance that cling Blue, one of which boasts a Nordstrom store. Nordstrom, like a growing number of brands, finds itself caught in the drama of a political America at war with itself. The upscale retailer, facing boycotts from Left and Right, has been forced to pick one. And while it may appear that Nordstrom has picked Blue over Red, it’s actually picked Green above all else.

Some brands choose to affirm fealty to a cause, and while this choice may not be overtly political, it defines the brand along the political spectrum. Hobby Lobby's owners are unabashed about Christian principles in its mission statement. Domino's Pizza, until its sale to Bain Capital, was heavily influenced by its founder’s Catholic activism. But most brands tend not to have such a foundational imperative. Many find a purpose because experts have told them it will strengthen their brand equity. Taking a stand may appear to be a shallow calculated decision, bereft of heart, but it does deliver on the one ethical responsibility that management has – its fiduciary responsibility to its principals, the shareholders.

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Today's "Puzzling" Consumer

James McQuivey

This week I was chatting with a client, explaining how today's consumer has more power than ever before: More information, more choices, more flexibility for exercising preferences, and most especially, less risk associated with changing their behaviors. It's a theme people are already bought into -- Forrester calls it the age of the customer -- but it's also a theme that people are too quick to believe they understand without grasping the kinds of changes this requires for a business to serve such an empowered customer. To get to that extra level of awareness, during my conversation this week, I came up with a way to describe it that I call the puzzling consumer.

Back in the day, a company designed a puzzle for you and saw you as a missing piece. They defined a hole with a certain shape, one that was convenient to them based on the analog tools they had, the historic mindset of their industry and so on. Then the company invited you to reshape yourself to fit that hole.

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YouTube Is The First Digital Platform To Take On Live TV

James McQuivey

Watch out, cable TV. Today YouTube shared it's newest subscription service -- YouTube TV -- with a hundred or so journalists at a live event at the company's headquarters. This is different from YouTube Red, the subscription version of YouTube enjoyed by at least 1.5 million people and focuses mostly on ad-free access to short-form videos along with a few exclusives. Instead, this new service is aimed squarely at pay TV. It does so by offering three things that cable TV has previously been best at:

  1. Live TV. YouTube announced deals with the major broadcasters -- CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox -- as well as a slew of cable programmers. Like with earlier over-the-top (OTT) TV providers Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, the content can be watched live, on an Android or Chrome device, or on a TV via a Chromecast and one assumes other devices soon enough.
  2. Cloud DVR. This is the new thing that all OTT TV services specialize in and some traditional cable packages -- like Xfinity from Comcast -- also offer. YouTube's DVR is unlimited and can record multiple shows at the same time.
  3. Sports. Yep, ESPN is one of the main reasons people still pay for TV and to succeed any OTT TV service has to have it. That ice was already broken by Sling TV, giving YouTube TV a way in to what used to be the most closely guarded part of the pay TV business.
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Spotify Loves Me; Spotify Hates Me: Serving Today's Demanding Customer

James McQuivey

Welcome to the age of the customer, a time where consumers can get what they want, when, where, and how they want to. Or at least they expect to because that's how their life is panning out more often than not. But what happens when they don't get something that seems obvious? An example: Five years ago this month, a Spotify user posted a request on the company's Live Ideas feature request, titled, "Explicit Button." The request was simple, at least from a digital customer's point of view:

Now five years later, the request has yet to be implemented, despite having achieved 7,463 upvotes from the Spotify member community. This makes it the most upvoted, unimplemented idea in the community. Yet there it sits. Search for explicit lyrics & Spotify and you'll get at least dozens, probably hundreds (I won't take time to count but you are welcome to) of complaints. Lots of people claim to have left Spotify over it. Others continue to listen but are angry about it. Spotify did respond in 2016 by saying:

This is wonderful: We have heard you, we agree with you. But we haven't yet done anything about it nor do we have plans to do so. What's up, Spotify?

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New Rules For Branding In Emerging Markets: Make Aspiration Accessible

Dipanjan Chatterjee

I spent a few days in India this month, and couldn’t help but be struck by an advertisement for a soft drink that played endlessly on television. Two convertibles pull up alongside each other on what looks like a pristine expressway. Perky members of the opposite sex exchange amorous glances and flirtations ensue. Bottles of the soft drink are cracked open, and predictable mirth ensues. Life is good with sweet lemony soda water.

For the uninitiated who think this is just another soda ad, it may be difficult to gauge how entirely ludicrous this scene is. Roads in urban metros in India are pummeled by a crush of traffic and the cacophony of horns almost at all times. The New York times reported this month that India has surpassed China in air pollution and that about 1.1 million people die prematurely in the country every year from the pollution. Anyone foolish enough to ride in a convertible would be served well by a gas mask. Public mating rituals common to Western cultures are found only in a sliver of society much narrower than the mass market for a soft drink. “Eve Teasing,” a euphemism for public sexual aggression targeted against women, is a major concern.  

So where did reality and depiction of reality part ways? Are these, dare we whisper, Alternative Facts?

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Do You Dread, Tolerate, or Embrace Change?

James McQuivey

Last November I sat down with Chevrolet CMO Tim Mahoney on stage at Forrester's Age of the Customer summit. We had a wide-ranging talk about disruption, change, and what Chevy executives are doing to anticipate and deal with that change. I just published a summary that conversation, what I might call Mahoney's top recommendations for CMOs in 2017. In that short summary, I quoted Mahoney and then added what follows:

"Our CEO talks a lot about how in the next five years, it's going to change more than it has in the last 100 years when you think about what's going on with car sharing, ridesharing, autonomous. It's a really interesting time to be in an industry that's over 100 years old. Think about your car: Where is it now? It's parked. Next to your home, it's the second-most important investment people make. It's parked 94% of the time. Many younger people are starting to ask, why do I even need a car?" - Tim Mahoney

General Motors is not alone in this ominous premonition. A full 42% of companies we surveyed recently in the US, Germany, and the UK agree that "in the next five years, my organization will have significantly altered its product and/or services.

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It's Time For B2B Brand Equity To Step Out Of The Shadows

Dipanjan Chatterjee

B2B brand management has come a long way from its roots in consumer packaged goods and has gradually branched out to play an equally central role in B2B markets. B2B CMOs are just as invested in bettering their brands as B2C. No longer relegated to industry rags and trade shows, B2B marketing is entering a new age, with firms like CA Technologies, General Electric, and IBM in the vanguard. At a Forrester event, General Electric CMO Linda Boff remarked that GE is often the first brand —not just the first B2B brand —on platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Vine.

But are most B2B brands successful in following in the footsteps of these trail blazers? Forrester research with over 1,000 B2B and B2C decision-makers reveals mixed results. Here's the good news: B2B CMOs include Brand in their top three priorities and consider Brand Management to be the strongest skill set in the department. But here's where it gets ugly: 25% of B2B CMOs consider Brand Awareness an important marketing metric; only 15% believe Brand Equity is important.     

This chasm between awareness and equity, which also exists for B2C brands, can prove particularly vexing and stubborn for B2B because of some commonly held misconceptions:

  1. Brand matters more for B2C (a lingering notion despite being soundly dispelled)
  2. The role of brand (in a traditional sales-driven culture) is to drive awareness and fill the mouth of the funnel (the reality points to a vital role in securing choice and loyalty)
  3. Brand Equity is amorphous, eludes specification, and hence best avoided (there exist many robust quantitatively-specified equity models
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Not just good. Not just great. Build an amazing brand.

Dipanjan Chatterjee

There are plenty of good brands. And some great ones. But few can arouse the intensity of emotions that make them inseparable. Brands achieve resonance at the point of inflection where the interaction transforms from transaction to relationship. And like any relationship, resonance occurs in intensifying layers, with the best brands being able to trigger an enduring and self-amplifying relationship.  

Patagonia has practically written the book on how to do this right. Newer brands like Spanx and Dollar Shave Club have built a loyal following by rewriting the rules. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and CrossFit have built communities that thrive on shared experiences. And “legacy” brands like USAA and Delta Air Lines have effectively engaged their communities to strengthen their bond.

Forrester clients can read about these Resonant Brands in my new report (From Great To Amazing: Building Brands With Enduring Resonance). Here’s a quick preview of how CMOs can steer their brands towards Resonance:

 

Get Emotional

If you deliver a great customer experience, you’re halfway to building an amazing brand. Now, ramp up on emotional connections — they are much stickier than functional excellence.

Build Communities

An engaged community will do the heavy lifting around building brand and salience for you — if you give them a reason to. Create the right environment and the context for your brand communities to thrive.

Have A Unique Voice

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Connecting The Human Being To The P&L

Victor Milligan

The fact that human beings make affinity and spend decisions based in large part on emotion is not new news. It is the underlying logic of advertising – heartstrings are the early sparks of revenue. But there is a reason that most companies have not baked emotion into experience design and into the day-to-day engagement with customers. It's hard to do.

Emotions are situational, dynamic, and hard to read. Yet the gulf between the science of emotion and the business of emotion is closing, creating a set of new tools to convert great experiences into sustained growth.

Last week during an online event, I brought together thought leaders, Anjali Lai, Harley Manning, and Roxie Strohmenger, to translate the science of emotion to the pragmatic business application of emotion. If you were unable to watch it live, here is the replay – and for good measure, here are key takeaways from our discussion:

  • Emotion is the next step in getting to know your customer.
    The customer is now the center of the universe, and to win in this market, companies need to know – really know – their customer. Beyond satisfaction, advocacy, and journeys, companies must understand what makes customers tick and how to influence affinity and spend. Emotion is not the next thing "just because"; it gets to the heart and soul of operating in a customer-led market.
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The Vanishing Dichotomy Between B2B and B2C Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

 How My Experience As A Decision Maker Formed My B2B Branding World View

Before I threw caution to the wind and launched myself with wild abandon into the world of branding, I had a normal life.  For a few years, I ran a retail business for a Berkshire Hathaway company (and since everyone asks, yes, I did meet and have dinner with Warren, although I suspect his recollection may not be as crisp as mine.) We manufactured and sold uniforms to government agencies: Police, fire, EMS, postal service, and others. As you'd expect, our customers were quite insistent that the fabric for the uniforms be made in the U.S. That is until budgets got slashed, and belts got tightened. Then the only thing that mattered was cost. So we were sent scampering to find the lowest-cost fabric and our global fabric sourcing program had to go from zero to sixty in a matter of months. 

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